Whether you're a new or seasoned real estate investor, hiring a property manager can be a daunting task. You want to find a talented, dedicated individual who will care about your property as much as you do. You need someone who is well versed in everything from market trends to property maintenance. So what skills, abilities, and attitudes make the best property manager? Here are our top 5 qualifications to look for in a property manager.
Education and License
California law requires that any practicing property manager have an active California Real Estate License. When vetting managers, be sure to verify that the individual managing your property has a California Real Estate License, and the owner of the property management company has a California Real Estate Broker's license.
In addition, there are several organizations that offer advanced training for property managers such as the National Association of Residential Property Managers and the Institute of Real Estate Managers. Most serious property managers join the NARPM and other industry organizations.
Finally, if you plan to accept government subsidies through programs like HUD, be sure the manager is familiar with the rules and regulations that govern the programs. Government programs often require stricter guidelines that must be followed.
Being a property manager often sounds like an easy job, but an experienced property manager knows better. Managing properties requires intellect, compassion, dedication, and determination.
How can you tell if the property manager has the experience necessary to manage your investment? Make sure that he/she has the field experience necessary to know what to do in an emergency or uncommon situation.
- How will the manager handle a maintenance emergency? Ask him what he will do if a pipe bursts at 2 am. He should respond with a plan. Does he have someone on-call 24/7 to handle emergency maintenance situations? Does he have a list of emergency contractors that can fix the problem immediately? Does he have a strategy in place to turn off running water? An experienced property manager will have solutions to these types of maintenance problems on autopilot.
- How will the manager select renters for your property? An experienced property manager knows that California and Federal laws are very strict about what you can (and cannot) do when selecting perspective tenants. Experienced managers will have rental criteria based on your property needs, and will select tenants following all local, State, and Federal laws.
- Does the manager know how to service notices, process evictions, and deal with difficult tenants? Be sure the manager knows how to handle difficult tenants, including the necessary legal steps to document lease violations, late rent payments, and complaints.
- Worst Case Scenario. Imagine your worse case scenario for your investment property; now ask your potential manager how he'll help you mitigate any financial or legal damage. Do you like the response?
Other Useful Experience
If your prospective manager has less than 5 years of management experience, don't rule out "transferable" skills. You may find that some of the best property managers come from other fields such as accounting, law, maintenance management, or administration. Careers in other industries can lead to the experience needed to master property management tasks such as accounting, customer service, scheduling, and sales.
When vetting managers, ask how their other experience led them to a career in property management. This should give you a good idea about whether or not the manager is passionate about property management, or if it's just another job.
When deciding what to look for in a property manager, ensure you test the manager's organization skills. Look for an individual who has the ability to keep meticulous records. This is important for both your legal and financial protection. You need a property manager who won’t forget a page in the rental agreement package and will check thoroughly to make sure every signature is recorded and dated properly. If your property manager is not organized, then he will be unprepared for any problems that may (and likely will) sneak up on you in the future.
Although it should go without saying, trust is an important part of any relationship. A property manager works for you, so you need to be able to trust that they are going to do the best job possible. Not only that, your property manager needs to establish trust with your tenants. They need to be friendly and personable, capable of conveying a genuine interest in your needs and the needs of your tenants. They should be capable of writing rental ads reflecting the best qualities of your property, enticing the right people and responsibly discouraging the wrong ones. If they will be interviewing tenants, they should be an excellent judge of character. They should respond quickly not only to your requests, but the requests of your tenants.
Ultimately, if they are a good property manager with any experience, they will have the results to prove it. A property manager makes a lot of relationships, so asking previous employers or tenants is a great way to learn about them. If both the landlord and tenants have good things to say, you know that you’ve found a good one. Check to make sure any other properties they manage are clean and well-maintained. Ask for their history with vacancy and turnovers. Good property managers have many long term residents and fast vacancy turnover. If you need help managing your property in the greater Sacramento area, contact All Inclusive Realty Group.
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